Is the New York Times being run by Karl Rove?

The New York Times, as has been noted before, has a remarkable history of “uncovering” stories just before major elections, stories that seem to have the common element of hurting Republican chances in the polls. That the stories often fall apart under closer scrutiny is, I’m sure, just another terrible, awful coincidence.

But this week, I’m starting to wonder if the Times is shading their bets a bit, by taking a few actions that, in the long run, might actually HELP the GOP.

First up, John Kerry dislocated that lantern jaw of his and shoved his foot right down his throat by clumsily turning a cheap shot against President Bush into a slam against US forces in Iraq. Lurch finally took enough dope-slaps from other Democrats and issued a quarter-assed apology (it didn’t even rate as “half-assed”), and the Democrats hoped the furor would die out before the elections.

Then Seymour Hersh, the Times’ superstar, stepped into the fray.

Hersh gave a speech in Montreal last week, and the “pull quote” everyone is focusing on is this:

“In Vietnam, our soldiers came back and they were reviled as baby killers, in shame and humiliation. It isn’t happening now, but I will tell you – there has never been an [American] army as violent and murderous as our army has been in Iraq.”

It was very reminiscent of John Kerry’s own testimony before Congress back in 1971:

“They told stories at times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war, and the normal and particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country …”

And, also, reminiscent of Kerry’s statement on Meet The Press, when he was representing Viet Nam Veterans Against The War:

“There are all kinds of atrocities and I would have to say that, yes, yes, I committed the same kind of atrocities as thousands of other soldiers have committed in that I took part in shootings in free-fire zones. I conducted harassment and interdiction fire. I used 50-caliber machine guns which we were granted and ordered to use, which were our only weapon against people. I took part in search-and-destroy missions, in the burning of villages. All of this is contrary to the laws of warfare. All of this is contrary to the Geneva Conventions and all of this ordered as a matter of written established policy by the government of the United States from the top down. And I believe that the men who designed these, the men who designed the free-fire zone, the men who ordered us, the men who signed off the air raid strike areas, I think these men, by the letter of the law, the same letter of the law that tried Lieutenant Calley, are war criminals.”

Gee, it’s almost like the Times is trying to reaffirm the classic liberal stereotype that they “loathe the military.”

Then, today, they have their story about Iraq’s nuclear research program. Once again, on the surface, it appears another hatchet job on the Bush administration: either through incompetence or for sheer political gain, they released highy-sensitive nuclear secrets.

That’s the sizzle, though. Here’s the steak, buried down in the 14th paragraph:

“Among the dozens of documents in English were Iraqi reports written in the 1990s and in 2002 for United Nations inspectors in charge of making sure Iraq had abandoned its unconventional arms programs after the Persian Gulf war. Experts say that at the time, Mr. Hussein’s scientists were on the verge of building an atom bomb, as little as a year away.”

It’s rather carelessly written, but the interpretation I get is that in 2002, Iraq was within a year or so of possessing a nuclear weapon. That, despite 11 years of UN sanctions and inspections to prevent just that.

And in 2003, the United States invaded Iraq and deposed Saddam Hussein.

I don’t like to put too much stock in the New York Times, but to me that looks suspiciously like the “smoking gun” everyone said didn’t exist.

So, why would the Times release — less than a week before the elections — a story that tends to disprove the arguments of so many on the Left, that Saddam had no WMDs, no WMD programs, and did not pose an “imminent threat?” Sheer incompetence is one possibility — there’s certainly no lack of precedent for that. But could it, instead, be designed to balance out their previous biased coverage and manufactured stories that have backfired so often in the past? Could they be looking to curry favor with the GOP, just in case the Democrats don’t pull off a major victory on Tuesday?

Nah. I don’t think they’re that smart.

I’d rather think it’s another amazingly brilliant move by Karl Rove. After all, he gets credit for everything else.

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